Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reboot Alberta conference

I'm just back from Reboot Alberta ( or find more on by using the tag #rebootab). For two days, 85 people from all across Alberta met to discuss the ways and means to create a better Alberta.

Here are some things that stood out for me:

-The incredibly rich, thoughtful, respectful conversations. In every group, there was an honest dialogue that made ample room for disagreement and a deep commitment to keep the conversation going. This is, in my experience, extremely rare. There were no winners or losers in these conversations, every point of view was valid.

- By the end, we had developed four different approaches to creating progressive change: start a new party, grow a social movement to influence and create change from outside the party system, Next Alberta Project (transformation to future think tank), and developing a means of keeping everything linked, to track our progress. The fact that all four approaches were encouraged to co-exist and continue was a great sign to me. A multiplicity of approaches is an incredible strength when you are faced with complex challenges like revitalizing democracy or changing paradigms. It may, in fact, be the only hope of being successful.

- One very wise man stood up and talked about wanting to feel proud of being an Albertan again and how he did not that currently. This pride was not a boastful or arrogant pride but simply the pride of feeling good about doing the right things and doing them well. He noted that the conversations that had taken place at Reboot were about possibility, not just about problems. He urged us to accept responsibility for what is and resist the urge to blame the government. We are the government. We must not feel victimized, fatalistic, hopeless or unable to act. Instead by accepting our responsibility, our culpability for the current state of affairs, we take the first step towards making the change. He marvelled at the increased sense of ownership in the room and the powerful authentic connections.

I participated in the conversations about the development of a new party. I think there was a lot of great ideas in the room and a strong desire to create a party that more people can "call home".

Here are a few comments:

- Servant leadership; MLAs serve the public, not the party. Policies, principles, etc. developed through consultation with public not "announced" to the public. The leaders demonstrate a deep trust the public and commitment to listening.

-Ethical Leadership: MLAs are credible, act with integrity, are open and honest. They do what they say they will. Transparency of decision-making (Not done in caucus). Open and accountable to public. MLAs encouraged to vote their conscience, including voting against party if necessary.

- Principled Leadership: Based on a shared vision of sustainability, fiscal responsibility, prosperity, democracy and quality of life. (This is a starting list... more to be added, I'm sure.)

-Positive rather than negative: Most of us thought that the current political parties are focused on negativity, fear, rivalry, "winners and losers" model. We felt looking ahead and being solution-focused, collaborative and positive was important.

-Using new methods, new approaches: If we adopt the same attitudes/methods, we will end up re-creating what we already have. A number of concrete "Game-changers" will need to be in place. The potential is enormous to reach and activate the 60% of Albertans who did not vote in the last election. The dissaffected and disengaged are thus for real reasons, not just due to some ill-defined "apathy". Apathy is the symptom. What is the root of it? That's the work I'm interested in digging into and will probably connect with to start a conversation on this.

-The website: this is a great means to continue these connections and start new ones. I encourage you (yes, I mean you!) to check it out.


Catherine said...

Great Post Sue! There's alot for people to think about. We can't feel victimized, we must understand that we currently have the government that we allowed to happen and that we must work from here on multiple fronts and, above all, stay connected even when we disagree. I wish I had been there.

Don Schurman said...

Thanks for refering to the comments of a "A very wiseman --" Pleased you did not add "old". Don